Authorities in Chico, California are trying to make sense of what is being called a mass casualty overdose on the powerful narcotic fentanyl that one man is dead and another 12 hospitalized according to NBC News.
“Certainly, there’s potential for additional fatalities,” Chico Police captain Mike O’Brien said at a news conference. “I want to emphasize that.”
Two responding police officers who became ill and were treated and released from a hospital Chico Fire Department Chief Steven Standridge said the officers were “potentially exposed” to the drug, a synthetic opioid often imported on the black market from China and Mexico to be used as a filler in heroin.
“Every indication is that that this mass overdose incident was caused from the ingestion of some form of fentanyl in combination with another substance, although that is yet to be confirmed,” O’Brien said. “The residence where this incident occurred is being treated as a hazmat site,” he said.
The victims, who are between the ages of 19 and 30, all knew each other, the police chief said.
O’Brien said a someone called 911 about 9 a.m. Saturday to report the incident. Responding officers gave patients six doses of the opioid antidote Narcan also known as naloxone, while also administering CPR. Narcan which is administered by nasal spray or injection blocks or reverses the effects of opioids.
According to CNN the Chico Fire Department Division Chief Jesse Alexander told the station that this was the largest mass casualty incident he had seen in years.
“It certainly would have been far worse without the response and dispensing of naloxone by Chico police officers,” O’Brien said. Chico officers began carrying the antidote only last year.
The person who died was not identified and the conditions of the non-critical victims were not released.